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Absentee Landlords & Licencing Regulations during WW1

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Absentee Landlords & Licencing Regulations during WW1

Posted: 1425515866000
Classification: Query
How did WW1 impact the licencing of publicans? Specifically, if the licence was in a husband's name and he was conscripted then was his wife able to automatically continue trading without changing the licence into her name? And if he died in action or didn't return, say, could she continue operating the pub using a licence registered in his sole name?

The background to this enquiry relates to my wife's great-grandmother (Eleanor) and a mysterious great-grandfather (John). Eleanor ran three pubs in her lifetime, and nobody in the family knows what happened to her husband. We have their marriage certificate, so know who he was, and there's a story that she kicked John out for drinking the profits or maybe he never came back from WW1, but nobody in the family knows for sure. That's what I'm exploring.

The licence for their first pub was issued in 1905 to John in his sole name. John and Eleanor are together at the pub, with their son, in the 1911 Census (she's a "Publican's assistant") and the licence remained in John's name until Aug 1923, when it transferred to the next landlord. There was then an 18 month gap before a licence was issued in Eleanor's name for her second pub, a few miles away, in Dec 1925. If she did kick him out, I'm assuming it happened during that 18 month hiatus.

However, I also have a copy of a birth certificate for their son, born 1905, dated Aug 1916 and annotated "for army use only" implying that John was conscripted. I can't find John's military records, but could Eleanor have continued running their first pub during WW1 even if the licencee, her husband, was away serving in the army? And could she have continued running that first pub on her own until 1923, as the wife of a dead/absent licencee, if John had died in WW1 or been kicked out sometime before 1923? Or does the fact that Eleanor never became the licencee for that pub mean that they were still together until 1923?

I'd appreciate any advice and info on how to interpret these facts.

Many thanks

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